Ryan McLoughlin (Hat Trick Hero)
FIRST: So, that was really good. Michigan had a Corsi of 29 (!!!) in the first period. Maybe their best offensive period of the season? They also generated 13 looks from inside home plate. Spoiler: that's more than OSU had from anywhere on the ice in the first. Allen's goal came off a roofed shot after a faceoff scrum. Winborg had Michigan's second goal. Luce ripped a pass (in the press box, we're debating if it was a shot or a pass) off the boards from the point and Winborg posted up at the left post, pivoted nicely and beat Frey. This was a very impressive period.
SECOND: Michigan backs up their uber-strong first period with a 16 in Corsi in the second. Six of their sixteen came from the home plate. Marody ran a beautiful play action fake with Sanchez to free himself near the top of the circle and rifled a shot past Frey. Chad Pennington would be proud. Michigan has gotten great looks all game and are finishing their chances. This has been their best first couple of periods I have seen them play offensively so far this season.
- THIRD: Back to normal. Ten even strength attempts and one from the home plate. And it was barely inside the top end of the home plate. Half of their attempts came from outside the dot on the right attacking circle. The remaining four were literally in different corners. OSU's defense was A LOT better and there was little M did about it. Good thing they banked early in the first two periods. But, unfortunately, I think this is more of what we see tomorrow night. It just took OSU a couple periods to wake up. Hopefully, I am wrong. Michigan ended with 55 total even strength attempts with 21 coming from the home plate area. That's 38% when they average getting 33% on the season.
FIRST: Ohio State's 2nd ranked attack generated three attempts inside home plate and just 12 overall in the first period. Lavigne made some fantastic stops, but the defense did a good job of limiting chances. /looks around /quietly backs away SHHHHHHHHH!!!!
SECOND: The second wasn't QUITE as good as the first, but they still held OSU's powerful offense to 15 even strength attempts and 7 from home plate. This is better than the usual. The majority of their attempts came from Lavigne's left and far enough away. There are still some gaffes and awkward breakdowns, but they look a little more contained...or they are just not paying for them as badly. We will see...
- THIRD: Also, more back to normal. As I was writing the bit about the second period, OSU's goal rush was occuring. In the end, they attempted 19 even strength shots and 8 from the home plate. That's about 42% of their period attempts coming from the dangerous area. Lavigne may have flubbed one of them, but he also robbed quite a few others in previous periods. This was more of what I expected. 37% of their 46 attempts came from the home plate area. M averages giving up 32% on the year.
FIRST: Michigan drew their penalty very early but could not score. Ohio State has a Bottom Ten penalty kill, so if M can continue to get more opportunities, I like their chances of connecting. Michigan ended up taking two penalties in the first. Ohio State has the 4th ranked power play at 25% but could not score. They did generate a few good looks but missed the net on a could and Lavigne tracked the ones on frame. Their second penalty will carry over into the second. Marody took it at the offensive blue line. No more of those, please.
SECOND: Michigan draws three more penalties in the second and converts on two of them. The first goal was a scramble in the crease that Marody poked in. The second was a beautiful cross-ice one-timer from Piazza to Marody who beat Frey across the crease. Michigan set their power play up nicely all period and was rewarded for it. They did take three more penalties but killed the first couple (the third will carry over). Again, OSU with a few good chances, but Lavigne was there for all but the one he lost track of off the crazy bounce.
- THIRD: Michigan draws two more penalties but does not convert on either. They also did not register an attempt on net. They took two more penalties, in addition to the carryover penalty. Technically, OSU went 2/3 in that period. The first goal was a harmless shot that Lavigne whiffed. The 2nd was a deflection from the slot. Joshua was credited with the goal, but it easily could have gone off of Cecconi's stick, as well. On top of those, they created a ton of other missed chances, too. I can definitely believe that power play is a college elite one.
- FIRST: Hayden Lavigne didn't have to face as many shots, but the ones he did see were some great opportunities. He shut them all down. Lavigne looks absolutely fantastic. JLF might be higher touted, Nagelvoort might be more experienced, but I am completely comfortable with Lavigne in net, right now. He made seven good stops.
SECOND: Once again, Lavigne has a tremendous period. He saved another 8 shots and always seemed to be in the correct position. The only goal was off a funky bounce in the slot that he lost track of, turning to his right when it went to his left. Easy tap-in. I don't really blame him for that one. OSU has also hit the post a couple of times. Overall, he's been strong as usual.
- THIRD: Well, as I write this, the PA system is blaring "I Will Survive" and that's about right. After two great periods, the first 30 seconds really did Lavigne in hard. He faced a visible shot from the top of the circle and just completely whiffed on it...6 seconds into the start of the period. That was bad. Then, 30 seconds later, there is a bit of a scramble in front of him and the poke gets poked between his legs. I did not see this goal at all (as about 40 things are transpiring) but that is the consensus of those around me. The 4th goal was not on him as a shot going wide hits a stick a few feet in front of him and hits the back of his net. So, maybe not a bad period but not a great first minute. That completely changed the tone of the third period. He was strong for the rest, stopping about 10ish more shots.
ODD MAN RUSHES
FIRST: There was one OMR in the first. Piazza turned the puck over entering the zone on the power play and OSU had a breakaway. Lavigne shut it down for his first save of the game. That's all. Not many, but a big one.
SECOND: OSU came in on a 3v1 and Cecconi tied up one guy, flailed around on the ice, and the shot ended up hitting the crossbar. Valiant effort by Cecconi, but the bar bails everyone out. That's it.
- THIRD: OSU ended up getting a tic-tac-toe connection to get a guy in alone on Lavigne but he made the save. That's 3 OMRs which isn't a ton...but they were all pretty bad. Michigan was lucky to not give up a goal on any of them.
FINAL CORSI SCORE
I had: Michigan 55, Ohio State 46
www.collegehockeynews.com had: Michigan 48, Ohio State 35
I will be coming from Crisler tomorrow night, so we the first couple periods will be purely numbers based. Hopefully, more insight during the 3rd period.
Michigan lacrosse starts the season tomorrow night in Cleveland and our boys come into 2017 with a lot to prove. The Wolverines badly need to reverse the trajectory of program that is headed in the wrong direction. After going 5-11 in 2014 and 5-8 in 2015, the boys took a step back last year and finished 3-10, leaving many people to question whether they belong.
Michigan’s schedule features five teams ranked in the Maverik pre-season poll (ND, Hopkins, Maryland, Penn State and Rutgers) but the out-of-conference schedule is a veritable tray of cupcakes. The OOC slate features six teams (Lafayette, Detroit, Bellarmine, Mercer, Furman and UMBC) who won six games or fewer in 2016 and one new program (Cleveland State). ESPN analyst Quint Kessenich noted this in a season preview and predicted that Michigan could “sport a gaudy record”. If Michigan is for real they should enter conference play 7-2. Judging from last year, however, that’s a tall order.
For a detailed look at the roster check out this preview (it also features a glimpse of the new Nike unis which look pretty sweet).
Here’s a quick breakdown of every game on the schedule. I borrowed the “Desperate Need to Win Level” and “Win/loss will cause me to…” bits from Brian’s previews. Those numbers are based on an unscientific combination of the quality of the opponent and my assessment of whether Michigan should win or not. I’ll try to post each preview on the game day threads as well.
Game 1: @ Cleveland State: Saturday, February 4, 7 PM.
The Super Bowl still hasn’t been played and pitchers and catchers don’t report for another two weeks and yet Michigan is playing its first game this Saturday. At night. In Cleveland. In February. I’m excited it’s here already but damn they have to do something about the scheduling. Cleveland State is a new program and this is the Vikings’ inaugural contest so Michigan should take care of business. I don’t know anything about these Cleveland State characters but you gotta think that Michigan should be able to handle them and come away with a nice warm-up W. I like the idea they’re on the schedule though- I would love to see Michigan start a tradition in which they always play a new program in their first year.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 10
Win will cause me to: Breathe a sigh of relief that they beat someone they're supposed to.
Loss will cause me to...actually call for JP to be fired.
Game 2: vs. Lafayette, Saturday, February 11, Oosterbaan Fieldhouse, 4 PM.
Lafayette was straight up bad last year, going 3-11 with their only wins coming against lowly Wagner, and new programs Monmouth and NJIT. The Leopards were not particularly competitive in any of their losses either. It’s Michigan's home opener and Lafayette's season opener so our boys will have a game under their belt which should give them an edge. Oosterbaan Effect could also play a factor. Advantage: Michigan.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 8
Win will cause me to: Say “OK, good.”
Lose will cause to: Say “Damn it.”
Game 3: vs. Detroit, Wednesday February 15, @ Pontiac, Michigan, 7 PM
Last year’s game against Detroit was canceled due to heinous weather conditions and it was scheduled to be played inside. For a while there, Detroit looked like a program on the up-and-up. In 2013, the Titans somehow blundered their way to an NCAA tournament berth but then proceeded to put the fear of God into #1 Notre Dame who barely escaped with a victory. The next few years weren’t as fortuitous for Detroit, however and they couldn’t replicate that success. They won only two games in 2016. These teams played a tight one in 2014 but Michigan waxed them in 2015. Detroit will force a lot of turnovers.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 9
Win will cause me to: tell the good news to my girlfriend who doesn’t care.
Lose will cause me to: complain to my girlfriend who doesn’t care.
Game 4: @ Bellarmine, Saturday February 18, 6 PM
Bellarmine (which is in Kentucky- I had to look it up) went 6-9 last year but suffered close losses to tournament teams Marquette and Air Force and a good Richmond team. Michigan didn’t play them last year but our boys beat the Knights in 2014 and 2015. I would say that Bellarmine is probably more talented than Michigan and should have the edge at home. But, I really have no idea what to expect - this one will be a coin toss.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 6.5(?)
Win will cause me to: say “OK, heads”
Loss will cause me to: say “Ok, tails”
Game 5: @ Notre Dame, Sunday February 26, 2 PM
It would be nice to beat the tar out of ND because that’s the favorite pastime of any Michigan Wolverine. But - nah they’re not gonna win this one.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 6 (higher than it should be because its ND and Michigan needs a W over a premiere program, would love that to be against the Irish)
Win will cause me to: eat my hat
Loss will cause me to: shrug.
Game 6: @ Mercer, Thursday March 2, 7 PM
Mercer is another young program but they’ve fared OK in recent years going 7-7 in 2014 and 5-8 the last two seasons. This game is the first stop on Michigan’s spring break trip and looks like another toss-up. Mercer seems to be in the boat Michigan was in last year. Will they break out like Marquette or Richmond? Or will they continue to struggle? If I recall correctly, Mercer was Michigan’s first program win at the Division 1 level back in the day. They are not a formidable opponent and these are the kinds of games you want Michigan to win in a drama-free fashion.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 7
Win will cause me to: wonder what type of team Michigan is
Loss will cause me to: wonder what type of team Michigan is
Game 7: @ Furman, Saturday March 4, 1 PM
As in most years, the spring break trip represents the focal point of the season. These games can make or break the season. Furman, 2-11 in 2016, represents another winnable game for Michigan. Coming away 2-0 in the spring break games would be huge. The Paladins are coached by legendary former Navy head coach Richie Meade, so they got that going for them.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 9
Win will cause me to: start to believe
Loss will cause me to: continue to doubt
Game 8: vs. Penn, Saturday March 11, 1 PM, Big House
I was at this game last year at Franklin Field and came away incredibly frustrated after Michigan fell 12-10. Michigan outplayed the Quakers but found themselves playing catch-up most of the game due to lots of mistakes and missed opportunities among them surrendering multiple goals while MAN-UP. Penn had some young talent last year but underperformed. Kessenich sees big things for them in 2017 and has them ranked 10th(!) in his preseason poll. The Fightin’ Trumps will have the edge in this game.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 6 (likely a loss but it would be nice to steal a win from a good team they could’ve beaten last year)
Win will cause me to: try to keep my excitement and expectations in check
Loss will cause me to: gripe about how they should’ve won
Game 9: vs UMBC Saturday March 25, 1 PM, Big House
After the Penn game, Michigan’s schedule has a weird two week gap before they play UMBC. It should give them plenty of time to rest, recover and ready themselves for a beatable opponent. The Terriers have made the NCAA tournament a number of times over the years and they’ve even knocked on the door of the Final 4 but the program has fallen on hard times of late. They went 4-10 in 2016 and are breaking in a new coach.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 9 (given the lead-up time to prepare for such a low-caliber opponent, Michigan better come correct in this game)
Win will cause me to: be glad they won
Loss will cause me to: renew those calls for a new coach
Game 10: @ Maryland, Saturday April 1, 2 PM ***on ESPNU***
Maryland should’ve won the national championship last year but blew it in very Maryland fashion. Even though the Terps were one of the best teams in the country in 2016, Michigan took them to the brink in a snowy dogfight in Michigan Stadium. They’ll be nasty again this year. John Tillman is one of the best coaches in the country and it’s unlikely Michigan will get by the Terps’ perennially stout D and goalkeeping. Maryland boasts preseason All-Americans at pretty much every position including a one-man killing machine named Matt Rambo who scored 43 goals last year.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 3
Win will cause me to: drink beers in celebration
Loss will cause me to: go about my business as usual
Game 11: vs Rutgers, Saturday April 8, 1 PM, Big House
Rutgers got straight up screwed by the tournament committee last year. After a 5-10 campaign in 2015 (including a loss to M), Rutgers executed a complete turnaround in 2016 and racked up 11 wins including two against Hopkins (who did make the tournament). The Scarlet Knights won’t sneak up on anybody this year though - they’re ranked #19 to start the season and return some great offensive players. Michigan will likely be outmatched in this one.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 5
Win will cause me to: think Michigan can win the Big Ten?
Loss will cause me to: be bummed
Game 12: vs. Ohio State, Saturday April 15, 10:30 AM, ***Big House before Spring Football Game - go early!!! Also airing on Big Ten Network!!!***
F*** Ohio State. That’s it.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 11 (it’s Ohio State)
Win will cause me to: celebrate and boo random Buckeyes on the street
Loss will cause me to: push my anger down deeper.
Game 13: @ Johns Hopkins, Saturday April 22, 1 PM ***on ESPNU***
Hopkins, sort of the snobby lacrosse step-father of the Big Ten, won the league in 2015 but got bounced by Rutgers in the first round of the conference tourney last year. They finished 8-6 and got immediately run off the field by Brown in the NCAAs. While the Jays’ dominant spot in the lacrosse world may be slipping they are still a powerhouse (ranked #9, plenty of pre-season AAs). Michigan won’t beat them. Also - Hopkins is Hopkins so they have a roster full of insufferable dudes with terrible first names like Brock and Brinton and Chanler. They also have Gerald Logan who made his way to Baltimore via a grad transfer.
Desperate Need to Win Level: 3
Win will cause me to: talk shit to the Hopkins guy in my office
Loss will cause me to: long for the day that Michigan will be able to beat teams like Hopkins
Game 14: vs. Penn State, Sunday April 30, 1PM, Big House
So if the season goes well and by that I mean Michigan gets through the OOC 7-2 or 6-3 (which is possible) and poaches games from Ohio State and/or Rutgers (also possible), this could be a crucial game. But that’s a lot to ask from a squad that went 3-10 last year. The Nittany Lions disappointed last seaon but start 2017 ranked #14 in the country and are helmed by one of the best young minds in the game in Jeff Tambroni. Michigan has wrapped up the season against Penn State the last two years but has yet to beat them. Here’s to hoping the last game of 2017 will be a meaningful one.
Desperate Need to Win Level: Possibly 0. Possibly 1 million.
Win will cause me to: toast to finishing 2017 on a high note
Loss will cause me to: be bummed that the season is over and pine for 2018.
So in conclusion: I don’t know what to think. They couldn’t be much worse than last year but who knows if and how much they’ve improved. The worst case, 0-14, is a slim possibility but I doubt they’ll be that bad. Best case scenario- 9-5 with two conference wins. The reality will be somewhere between those two extremes but who knows what will happen. Six or seven wins would be a big step in the right direction for this program. Go Blue!
Since we're on the topic of recruiting classes - and because I didn't have a story written on another player this week - I thought I'd revisit the recruiting class that I was (marginally) a part of.
I may be getting older and more forgetful, but I've always prided myself on remembering teammates and their numbers. I looked at the photo below from the Bentley Library and was able to name almost all of them from memory, sans 1 or 2 guys who didn't make it much past picture day.
I think the headliner of the class was QB Bob Cernak out of Chicago. He was a strong lefthander who was considered by a few to be a threat to Harbaugh for the starting job. At the time, nobody really knew what Harbaugh could do (1984 was his first year starting) and Cerno was supposed to be a big timer. He even made the travel team for a game as a true freshman. But Bob broke his arm his freshman year and ultimately moved to Tight End. Today, he lives in Madison Wisconsin, is an avid fisherman, and a super good guy.
Bud Gereg was the number 1 recruit in Michigan. He was a defensive tackle out of Warren DeLaSalle. When he got to Michigan, football sorta took a backseat to playing guitar and a few other activities, and Bud left the program, unfortunately.
Bud's high school teammate was John Vitale, a big, gritty, no bullshit Italian from Detroit who was loved by everybody. He had such a big personality and was great football player. He started for us for a few years and became a consensus All-America his senior year. He played in the World League of American Football and the Arena League. Sadly, in 2000, he passed away from cancer of the spinal cord. He beat the cancer once before, but it returned shortly after he married his wife, Lynn. When his dad informed him that the cancer spread to his brain this time, John replied, "Well that sucks." That was John. It makes me tear up just typing this.
You're all familiar with Mark Messner out of Detroit Catholic Central. If you saw the guy walking on campus, you might not know he played football by looking at him. He wasn't overly big or bulky, but dude could play. He went on to have a pretty good career.
Ernie Holloway came from St. Martin DePorres and joined his brother Dan at Michigan. I played against Ernie and his St. Martin DePorres team back in high school. They pretty much kicked our ass every year. Our senior year, Ernie spent the first few games on the sideline with an ankle injury. His game against us was his first of the season. We held them to no gain on the first 3 plays but that would be the highlight of our day. In came Ernie, and on 4th and 15, he ripped off about a 75 yard TD run. That was it. Thanks for coming out, folks. Drive home safely.
Dave Chester - aka Sexy C. He came from Titusville Florida as a defensive tackle but eventually moved to offensive guard. The most vivid memory I have of him on defense was during a practice, him and Jumbo Elliott started mixing it up and throwing haymakers. Bo broke it up, then proceeded to explain how dumb those two were for throwing punches at another man wearing a facemask. Smart guy, that Bo.
Dave Herrick was an offensive lineman who started as long snapper his freshman year, and might have also got time on the line. His career was cut short by injuries but he continued to help with the video and taping department. One time during a practice, a wicked storm kicked up while Dave was up in the scissor lift. We all stood there and watched as this thing was listing hard from the wind. It was a pretty scary moment....but at the time, we laughed.
Keith Evans was a defensive back out of Florida. He wasn't very big but he could bring the lumber. I remember he had a bridge in his mouth for a set of fake front teeth. He removed the appliance while he played of course, and it made him look like a total badass. (I thought, anyway). Keith transferred after a year or two.
Big Mike Husar. This guy was great: excellent football player, nice guy, funny as hell. He's rumored to have set some sort of unofficial record for beers consumed in a single evening. I don't know about all that but I do know the smile he wore that night still hasn't come off his face yet. He's a big ole Teddy bear living in Chicago.
Erik "Soup" Campbell played both offense and defense, and earned time as a true freshman. One thing that I'll always remember is him calling Coach Carr "Lloyd". I don't know why that sticks out, but there it is. After graduation, E got into coaching, including a couple stints at Michigan. Today, he's the receiver's coach at UConn.
Chris D'Espisito was an offensive lineman from Toledo. His career was cut short by a pretty serious injury, if I recall. He helped out in the weight room as part of Gittleson's staff until graduation. It would be 25 years or so later before I heard from him again. When I posted on FB that my daughter would be attending Alabama, he reached out and told me he was the supervisor for Transportation/Parking on the UA campus. All 3 of his daughters attended Bama.
Dave Dever was a defensive tackle from Chicago. He lived down the hall in South Quad with a guy who would later be in my wedding. Dave's son Bo was a walk-on during Hoke's years, and continues to help with the program. The one memory that sticks out about Dave was he had this hand-carved wood duck in his dorm room. Everytime I went into their room, I'd pick up that damn duck and play with it. He kept telling me, "put it down. You're gonna drop it." I insisted I wouldn't. Until one day I did. I still feel pretty shitty about that.
John Willingham was an outside linebacker who went on to be a police officer with the LAPD.
Rick Masters was a guard but he ended up transferring out of the program.
Jamie Morris was a great teammate and continues to be a big part of Michigan football. The guy was 5 foot nothin, a hundred nothin but he out-punched his weight more than any player on the team. I remember watching him from the sidelines against Washington (I think) and seeing these giant defensive linemen and linebackers trying to rip his head off ever time they tackled him. He just popped right up and jogged back to the huddle.
Mark Hill was a scholarship linemen who transferrered to Michigan fucking State after one season. Boooo this man (although, I suppose if that's what he felt was best for him..... whatever. Booo.) Every Sunday, we'd gather for film study and talk about the game we just played. We also handed out the scouting reports for the next week's opponent. Bo would go through each starting player of the other team and give a quick opinion. When we played State the following year and got to Hill, Bo said, ".....and there's our boy." The room busted out laughing.
Big Mike Dames from Florida. You can read about him in one of my TBT stories from last year. Great great guy.
Bob Tait was an OLB from Pennsylvania. I think his footall career was cut short from injury, but he ended up walking on to the basketball team. I remember going to a game at Crisler and seeing him get some playing time at the end of a blowout.
Chuck Adams was a tight end from Detroit Country Day. The only memory I have of him was when he and Vitale threw down in the freshman lockerroom. It was a pretty good tussle, if I remember right. Adams ended up transferring to UCLA.
Mike Kovacs was a tight end but he also transferred out.
Mark Earhardt was big offensive lineman, and a super nice guy.
Don Lessner* - son of a MSHAA Hall of Fame coach and a good friend of mine. He works for the government (If I tell ya what he does, I have to kill ya), and loves him some free pop. He was in my wedding.
Trey McNeil* was a QB from Texas who went back there after 1 year in Ann Arbor
Brad Burrows* linebacker.
Kyle Anderson* was a QB who blew out his knee his freshman year. He rehabbed it and returned his sophomore year as a fullback, then promptly blew out his knee again. He's now the Lions orthopedic surgeon. He was in my wedding.
Ernie Bock*, a DB out of Northville, who was my roommate for two years.
Mike DeBoer* was a punter from Grand Rapids.
Rick Sutkeiwicz* was a barefoot kicker who started for us. His kids went to the same high school as mine (although I think they're slightly younger)
Dave* and Scott* Mandel - tight ends from Ann Arbor.
Bob* and Rick* Stites came from Ann Arbor Pioneer and were as tough as any players on the team. Bob is now the president of the Letterwinners M Club. They were ushers in my wedding.
Pat Fitzgerald* was a wide receiver and a pretty damn smart guy.
Me*. I mentioned the guys in my wedding because it's my 28th anniversary tomorrow. My poor wife.
* - denotes walk on. LOL.
There you have it. The freshman class of 1984. Hopefully I didn't forget anyone.
The guys I named are all in the the last couple rows.
There is no great analysis here; I just was looking at this stuff on my own and since I did the work I decided to post it here for the odd 4 people who might find it interesting.
Many have said this is the best UM class ever, often thinking by large margins. I also was guilty of this recency bias. Many have short memories. I look into the mirror as one of them. 2016's vintage was quite good with a 28 player catch with a 89.9 player average; that includes 9 players in the top 126.
Going further back our "best" class on paper up til this year was the "sterling" 2013 class; a class that will live in infamy. The one that would have us rocking and rolling our '12 and '13 OL classes MANGBALLING together to mow down Bama's DL in the CFP championship game circa '16 '17 with "bowling ball" Derrick Green, and the left armed darts of Shane Morris. Those were the days....
This class was 4th in the nation with a 27 player crew which averaged 91.0. That includes Scott Sypniewski's 76; remove that and it's a 26 player class averaging 91.6.
This is almost a perfect mirror to the 30 player class we just signed which finished 5th in the nation with a player average of 90.9. This includes Brad Robbins73; remove that and it's a 29 player class averaging 91.5.
Beging a machoist and enjoying data I decided to line up the classes side by side, player for player. And looking at it with the original 2013 rank vs a personal rerank, and looking at both vs the 2017 class.
A famous philosopher once said:
There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.
So before we begin let us talk about the known knows:
- Brady Hoke couldn't carry Jim Harbaugh's jock as a HC or program developer.
- Jim Harbaugh finds and hires people that go on to actually do things at other schools; that are coveted. Brady Hoke didn't.
- "You" were telling us Derrick Green was overrated from day 1.
- We knew Shane Morris was a high ceiling low floor guy coming off an injury year and getting hyped up based off camps.
- Hoke could generally 'croot defensive guys; his offensive picks generally ranged from WTF to LOL to YOUR KILLIN ME SMALLS.
Now that we got that out of the way, to the known unknowns:
- This class, like every class in the history of classes, will have high profile busts - Harbaugh or not. It's just a matter of who(m).
- Someone(s) from the bottom third of this class will surpass many of the guys at the top. "I told you Stueber is the next great 77!"
- Some of these guys will get hit by an injury bug.
- Some won't get their 5th year.
- 2017 HAS to be better than 2013, amiright? I mean it would take serious effort by all parties involved including various lobotomy exercises to coaching staff for it not to be true. Hold me Brown Bear.
Now onto the data
Chart 1, straight up player for player side by side-ish....per original rank. Rather than just line them up single file I put them in a general groupings of similar ranks; don't ask for the science behind it - it's just one dude's clustering.
Chart 2, I did a rerank of the 2013 class on how it "really worked out in terms of player effectiveness" - I used the same 2013 rankings our players garnered, but changed the names from best to worst i.e. #27 overall went from Green to Lewis. It wildly overstates the ranking a lot of guys as the class was just so bad once you got past the first 10 guys. (guys who don't even play get top 300 rankings!) Obviously a lot of skunks at the bottom so (a) trying to rank them i.e. who busted more than the other is impossible and (b) comparing them to our 2017s is almost unfair. But they had to go somewhere.
|27||D. Green||12||D. Peoples-Jones|
|68||P. Kugler||44||C. Ruiz|
|71||D. Thomas||56||L. Vilain|
|72||S. Morris||80||D. Singleton|
|87||K. Bosch||94||A. Thomas|
|95||D. Dawson||107||J. Anthony|
|110||C. Fox||113||C. Filiaga|
|115||J. Lewis||122||T. Black|
|121||H. Poggi||123||D. McCaffrey|
|130||M. McCray||136||N. Collins|
|168||L. Tuley-Tillman||170||O. Martin|
|209||D. Smith||214||J. Ross|
|215||B. Gedeon||220||J. Hudson|
|258||M. Hurst Jr||261||D. Irving-Bey|
|299||W. Shallman||266||J. Kelly-Powell|
|300||D. Hill||278||O. Samuels|
|338||J. Dukes||334||B. St-Juste|
|374||R. Douglas||368||A. Stueber|
|416||D. Samuleson||420||B. Hawkins|
|564||C. York||485||K. Paye|
|776||D. Jones||813||B. Mason|
|810||R. Dawson||916||K. Taylor|
|27||J. Lewis||12||D. Peoples-Jones|
|68||J. Butt||44||C. Ruiz|
|71||T. Charlton||56||L. Vilain|
|72||C. Stribling||80||D. Singleton|
|87||D. Smith||94||A. Thomas|
|95||M. Hurst Jr||107||J. Anthony|
|110||D. Thomas||113||C. Filiaga|
|115||B. Gedeon||122||T. Black|
|121||D. Hill||123||D. McCaffrey|
|130||K. Bosch||136||N. Collins|
|168||D. Green||170||O. Martin|
|209||H. Poggi||214||J. Ross|
|215||L. Tuley-Tillman||220||J. Hudson|
|258||S. Morris||261||D. Irving-Bey|
|299||D. Jones||266||J. Kelly-Powell|
|300||P. Kugler||278||O. Samuels|
|338||W. Shallman||334||B. St-Juste|
|374||R. Douglas||368||A. Stueber|
|416||D. Samuleson||420||B. Hawkins|
|564||D. Dawson||485||K. Paye|
|776||C. York||813||B. Mason|
|810||C. Fox||916||K. Taylor|
* I excluded both the 13 long snapper and the 17 punter from this exercise.
Bill Connelly recently came out with an article analying the returning production of 2017's college football teams. Rather than just using returning starts to analyze a teams upcoming season, he looks at all returning production as a percentage. One main takeaway is that some of the most telling stats are returning receiving yardage and passing yardage on offense and overall passes defended/overall tackles on defense. To get a more complete persepective, read the article here:
After reading this, I had a thought. Bill provided an expected increase or decrease in points above average for both offense and defenses for the 2017 season. I thought I would take his expected production changes and compare it to the 2016 numbers to see where Michigan and its 2017 opponents would fall in the 2017 rankings. NOTE: This is not an all inclusive analysis. Other factors such as coaching changes and recruiting classes are not considered. So lets get started.
MICHIGAN: Michigan's offense is expected to regress by 1.8 points per game and the defense should fall by about 7.9 ppg for an overall total of a 9.7 ppg regression. This is larger than any fall of all Big Ten teams from 2016 to 2017. That's really bad right? However, Michigan is falling from a height of 26.8 ppg, still having the maize and blue fall in at a projected 17.1 ppg above average. Based on where this would fall in the 2016 rankings, this would place Michigan at: VERDICT: 13th ranked team in 2017
Now onto the 2017 schedule plus a few notables.
FLORIDA: Projected offense increase of 2.7. Defense projected to drop by 2 ppg. The total increase of 0.7 would place the Gators at 15th (14.8 ppg above average) in the country, setting Michigan up for a potentially very evenly matched opening bout, especially when considering the neutral field.
CINCINNATTI: The Bearcats were not good in 2016 at -5.2 ppg. With an overall expected increase of only 1.6 ppg, UC will likely be bad again in 2017. That projection would only move them up to just inside the top 80 teams.
AIR FORCE: The Falcons were pretty solid in 2016, finishing 10-3 and 1.2 ppg above average. However, they're losing more production than every FBS team in the country. Expected the lose 4.7 ppg on offense and 8.6 ppg on defense, Air Force is expecting a drop of 13.3 points which would drop them to 113th overall in the 2016 rankings.
PURDUE: They were horrendous in 2016. They're gonna be really bad again. At -9.4 ppg already and expecting a small increase of only 1.7 ppg, the Boilers are still gonna be outside the top 100 teams.
MICHIGAN STATE: One of the classic Sparty narritives so far this offseason has been Michigan losing a lot. News flash to Sparty fans. Your team was terrible in 2016 and it looks like it's going to be again in 2017. MSU can expect to lose 4.2 points on offense and 2.2 on defense. All said, that would make the green giants the 78th best team. Good thing they have a big recruiting class comi....oh wait. /troll over
INDIANA: IU is an interesting case to look at. The Hoosiers can expect a small uptick at 0.8 ppg offensively, but an already solid defense could be looking at an increase of 5.4 ppg. All in all, this would put Indiana at 26th in the nation. However, the Hoosiers just fired Kevin Wilson for uh...things that happened. So it's hard to actually project they'll reach these heights. It could be a tricky road game for our Wolverines though.
PENN STATE: The Nits came on strong to finish the 2016 season, winning the Big Ten and narrowly losing to a tough USC team in the Rose Bowl. 2017 looks promising in Happy Valley with projected increases placing PSU 6th in the nation for 2017.
RUTGERS: Can the Scarlet Knights get any worse than they were? With a projected increase of 2.4 ppg, Rutgers is still going to be amongst the worst 20 teams in the nation.
MINNESOTA: The Gophers are projected to fall back a bit offensively and get a bit better defensively. Overall, they're expected to fall down about 1.4 ppg and would place right about the top 50. However, they'll also be in Year 1 of one of the hottest upcoming coaches in the country in PJ Fleck.
MARYLAND: DJ Durkin had a big rebuild to undertake when he took over the Terps in 2016 and they finished at -5.4 ppg. Bill expects them to step back by 3.5 ppg on offense and offset that with a 2.1 ppg improvement on defense. Overall, they might step back a bit before moving forward. They would fall just inside the top 100 teams.
WISCONSIN: This is going to be the Wolverines first trip to Madison in nearly a decade. The Badgers were very good in 2016. They're expected to improve to about 20 ppg above average overall in 2017. This has the making of a possible top 10 team.
OHIO STATE: It would have been nice to have them at home in 2016 instead of 2017, but being at home might be the Wolverines best chance to finally beat the Buckeyes. OSU is expected to improve by 1.5 ppg on offense but fall by 1.3 on defense. They should be about the same level of team again this coming season. That would make them a top 5 outfit. Once again, it's going to be extremely difficult to topple the Bucks.
Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Iowa looks to experience a strong drop in offense that would move the Hawks to somewhere right around the top 60 teams. Nebraska is expecting a similar offensive dropoff as Iowa. Would it be a big stunner to see the Huskers fall to the top 70ish range? Improvements for Northwestern might see them rise to the top 30. Could the Wildcats be a serious Big Ten West contender?
Also, Alabama should rightfully be the #1 team entering 2017. They finished as the #1 team to S&P+, finished 2nd in the national title race, recruit in a way that we've never seen recently, and are expected to be at basically the exact same level in 2017.
The common theme among all these guys I’ve written about, aside from my good fortune of being their teammate, is a great admiration I’ve had for them as intelligent men of high character. They were all great football players, that’s a given, but they all stood out as leaders by way of their action. They did less talking but more “walkling”. They worked hard, performed at the highest level, and competed every day for a shot at a starting job. Then, when they got there, they remained grounded and became outstanding examples for the young guys behind them. They showed from their actions how to go about your business and always put the team first. It’s no surprise that these guys have all gone on to leadership positions in their chosen fields and have remained successful while being held in high regard by their coworkers. You’ve heard the term “Captains of Industy”. They all fit that description.
This next guy fits it to a tee. He came into the program a highly sought after QB, with lofty education and athletic goals. He was a hard worker by nature, liked by all his coaches and teammates, and handled one of the most pressure packed moments you could imagine. He went on to marry a Michigan women, further his education with TWO master's degrees, and is now an administrator at one of the most respected health care providers in the entire world.
Russ Rein grew up in Oak Lawn Illinois, having played for Marist High School. He was recruited by just about every school, including Alabama, Duke, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, and Brigham Young. Clearly academics played a major factor in his college decision.
When he visited Michigan, he planned on becoming a doctor, either a physician or ophthalmologist. When he arrived for his visit, he was taken to a house of an ophthalmologist who worked for the university hospital. There were almost a dozen other doctors present who all came out to greet the prized recruit. (Another example of a page Harbaugh took right from Bo’s playbook). Of course a young kid with medical aspirations would be awed by the “chance” meeting, but it was deeper than that for Russ. He saw the collective dedication to excellence that permeated the room; the presence of brilliant doctors who had great respect for their field and their fellow doctors. To say it left an impression would be an understatement. That moment would resonate with him in his life after college football.
While he was taking his time narrowing his college choices, Bo was seeking an answer. Time was of the essence, and solidifying the roster was no less stressful for coaches then as it is now. Being the kind of guy who wouldn’t make a hasty decision, Russ planned a visit to Provo Utah to tour Brigham Young and meet with legendary Coach Lavelle Edwards. Bo had other plans. He wanted a commitment. He called Russ and used the tried and true recruiting tactic that still gets used today: “Son, we have limited scholarships available and if you take that visit, I'm afraid we’ll have to give your scholarship to someone else.” If Russ felt intimidated or pressured, he didn’t show it. “I’ll think about it and get back to you” he said as he hung up the phone. Ballsy move for an 18 year old. Ballsy but not risky. Russ knew as soon as he hung up the phone he was going to Michigan. Shortly thereafter, he called the old man back and pledged his allegiance to the Wolverines.
He arrived on campus in 1983 as part of a stable of QBs that included Steve Smith, Rich Hewlett, Jim Harbaugh, and Chris Zurbrugg. That’s a crowded room. Smith and Hewlett were seniors but Harbaugh had 4 more years of eligibility. Today, a highly rated quarterback might look at that roster and seek a more convenient path to the playing field. Not Russ. He had been a hard worker his whole life, clocking hours at his parent’s convenience store on the southside of Chicago since he was a young boy. He wanted the challenge that Michigan offered, both athletically and academically.
His first game action came sooner than he and just about everyone associated with Michigan expected. October 6, 1984. Ranked #13 in the country with a 3-1 record and facing in-state rival Michigan State in the Big House. You all know what happened. Trailing 13-7 midway through the 3rd quarter but with the ball and driving, Jamie Morris got hit and fumbled at the 35 yard line. Harbaugh dove for the loose ball at the same time a State defender got there. Broken arm. His season over.
Next man up: Russ Rein.
Talk about sudden change. One minute you’re standing on the sideline, casually watching the game, confident Harbaugh would lead the team for the go-ahead score then - snap - Bo yells, “Rein! Come here.”
Russ said he wasn’t really nervous when he entered the game. He was excited yet calm, though admittedly not quite as prepared as he would’ve liked. As a matter of fact, he recalls staying up quite late at the hotel the night before, studying for a final the following week. Lack of sleep for a football player at Michigan knee deep in academics isn’t really a unique problem. But things change when you’re suddenly thrust into the starting QB position unexpectedly.
As everyone knows, the game didn’t turn out the way we would have liked. Russ’ first pass was a long out route intended for Vince Bean on the opposite sideline. The cornerback broke on the route and made a hell of a play on the ball.
His first collegiate attempt was intercepted. It was that kind of day.
Funny story about that Michigan State game: as already mentioned, Russ’ family owned a store in Chicago. Three or four times a week, this nice old man named Mr. Ortho Cortz would come in to get a coffee and a newspaper. He’d always have a smile, say hello to Russ and his brothers, then go on his way. He’d been a regular customer for years. When Russ trotted onto the field for the first time in that Michigan State game, an official walked over, tapped him on the shoulder, and with a wink said, “Good luck, son.” To Russ’ surprise, it was Mr. Cortz, head of Big 10 officials, and referee for that game. In all the years Russ saw him at the store, he never knew he was a football official.
Practice the following week was grueling. We had a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball. Bo needed to get one of his QBs up to speed while the defense needed to figure out how to get off the field. By the time toe met leather the next week, it was #3 under center. He led us to a convincing 31-0 win over Northwestern in front a much happier Michigan Stadium crowd. In that game, Russ threw his first career touchdown pass to Tight End Eric Kattus. Guys like Kattus, Eddie Garrett, Rick Rogers, Clay Miller, and Art Balourdos were all instrumental in helping Russ prepare for the game and kept encouraging him during it. It was a great feeling leading the team to victory and hanging 31 points on the scoreboard.
Another interesting thing in that game: Russ faced a familiar old foe in Northwestern LB Jim Torkelson. The two had faced each other in the Illinois High School Football playoffs two years prior. Torkelson’s Homewood Flossmore team was leading Marist late in the game, but Russ had his team driving. In the last minute, as he dropped back for a potential game winning TD, Torkelson knocked the ball out of Russ’ hand and pounced on the ball. The refs ruled it a fumble. Russ still disagrees.
The two still maintain a friendship by way of a mutual friend (and former Wolverine) John Balourdos. They all get together in Chicago when Michigan invades Ryan Field every couple years.
At this point, it appeared the dust had settled from the shake up at QB. The defense pitched a shutout and we were back in the rankings at 4-2 heading into the second half of the season. Unfortunately, it would not go well. You know the story. 6-6. Blah Blah Blah.
After matriculating from the University of Michigan, Russ furthered his education with master’s degrees in Health Administration and Business Administration. After working in St Louis for Barnes Hospital, he moved to Minnesota and began working for the Mayo Clinic. He’s been there 25 years and is currently the Administrator for the Department of Cardiology. And like that feeling he got at Michigan as a recruit when he met all those ophthalmologists, Russ feels equally grateful for the opportunity to surrounded himself with legends in medicine and wonderful people who are committed to a common goal of helping other people.
Russ is married to Janet, whom he met at Michigan. Monte Robbins (former punter from Kansas) and Russ were sitting in a Linguistics class when he noticed a smart, beautiful co-ed sitting at the other end of the room. He couldn’t stop looking her way. When the class met again, Russ looked over to the same side of the room but to his chagrin, she wasn’t there. Monte leaned over and said, “she’s sitting behind you.” A few years later, she’d be standing right next to him.
In 1991, the pretty girl from the Linguistics class became Mrs. Russell Rein. They have two children: Sarah is a senior at the University of Minnesota, and JT is a freshman at the University of Utah.
Those Who Stay…